Spot-characters

Introduction

In this section, for a specific characteristic (spot-character) of a plant, we give a list of those families, genera and species which possess that character.

The original idea for this section came from the European Garden Flora (Walters, S.M. et al. (eds.), 1986) where the concept is termed an Informal Key.

Eric Clement later pointed out to me Van Balgooy (1997) which is a comprehensive treatment of spot-characters for the plants of Malesia. Although I have never seen that work, I have adopted the term spot-character used in that work and have been provided with a list of the spot-characters employed by Van Balgooy which I have found most useful.

Another source of ideas for characters was the list of "Characters found only in a limited number of families" found on pages 7-9 of Leistner (2000).

It must be emphasised that the details apply only to the particular families, genera and species which occur in Malawi.

The table below shows those species for which one particular spot-character applies. To see species which apply to combinations of spot-characters, go to the Multiple spot characters page.

As usual on this site, content is slowly being added.

List of spot-characters

Spot groupSpot_idCharacterNotes
Whole plant and habit
0
Succulent
Whole plant and habit
1
Climbing Included here are semi-climbing shrubs and herbaceous climbing or twining plants. Those that are both woody and climbing are placed under the spot-character 'lianes'. Many species have been placed under both categories.
Whole plant and habit
2
Trees
Whole plant and habit
3
Parasitic This includes plants which are wholly or partially parasitic.
Whole plant and habit
4
Myco-heterotrophic ("saprophytic") Plants which obtain their nutrients through a mycorrhizal fungus that is attached to the root of a photosynthetic plant. I.e. they are neither parasitic (directly attached to the host) nor truly saprophytic (directly obtaining nutrients from dead matter).
Included here are only those myco-heterotrophs which lack or mostly lack chlorophyll.
Whole plant and habit
5
Without chlorophyll
Whole plant and habit
6
Aquatic Plants growing on or under water, free-floating, or if rooted in the soil then not growing more than a few cm above the water level, lying flat upon the mud during dry periods and not self supporting.
Whole plant and habit
8
Reproducing asexually
Whole plant and habit
9
Bearing tendrils
Whole plant and habit
10
Bearing distinctly bent hooks
Whole plant and habit
11
Bearing hardened petioles
Whole plant and habit
12
Moss-like
Whole plant and habit
13
Epiphytic
Whole plant and habit
14
Lithophytic
Whole plant and habit
15
With true bulbs
Whole plant and habit
16
Annuals
Whole plant and habit
17
Biennials
Whole plant and habit
18
Lianes Very similar to climbers but more woody.
Whole plant and habit
19
Perennials
Whole plant and habit
20
Shrub over 2 m
Whole plant and habit
21
Shrub under 2 m
Whole plant and habit
22
Terrestrial (used in the Pteridophyta and Orchidaceae only)
Whole plant and habit
23
Cushion plants A somewhat vague category used to describe plants of a cushion-like growth.
Whole plant and habit
24
Plant dioecious Flowers unisexual; male and female flowers on separate plants
Whole plant and habit
25
Plant monoecious Flowers unisexual; male and female flowers on the same plant
Whole plant and habit
26
Plant a mangrove There are no mangroves in Zimbabwe; they occur only in Mozambique
Trunk, stem and branch
100
Trunk with bark peeling off in papery pieces
Trunk, stem and branch
101
Trunk with large knob-like projections (which may bear thorns)
Trunk, stem and branch
102
Trunk or branches with corky bark
Trunk, stem and branch
103
Stem winged
Trunk, stem and branch
104
Stem square I.e. 4-angled or 4-ribbed
Trunk, stem and branch
105
Stem absent or very short, with a basal rosette, the flowers borne on peduncles Scapose or acaulescent plants
Trunk, stem and branch
106
Stem with swollen nodes
Trunk, stem and branch
107
Branching Terminalia-like
Trunk, stem and branch
108
Branchlets strongly lenticellate
Trunk, stem and branch
109
Prickles or spines on trunk or stems
Trunk, stem and branch
110
Forked prickles or spines on trunk, stems
Trunk, stem and branch
111
Trunk or branches bearing flowers (cauliflory)
Exudate
200
White sap
Exudate
201
Yellow sap
Exudate
202
Orange-brown sap
Exudate
203
Sap of other colours
Smell
300
Foetid Strong-smelling in an unpleasant way
Smell
301
Lemon-scented
Smell
302
Aromatic? E.g. labiatae
Indumentum
400
Stellate or dendritic hairs
Indumentum
401
Medifixed hairs
Indumentum
402
T-shaped hairs
Indumentum
403
Y-shaped (or forked) hairs
Indumentum
404
Stinging (urticating) hairs
Indumentum
405
Hooked hairs
Indumentum
406
Hairs with bulbous bases
Indumentum
407
Farinose, mealy or covered in a powder (which may be brightly coloured)
Indumentum
408
Bearing scales
Stipules
500
Stipules intrapetiolar
Stipules
501
Stipules falcate
Stipules
502
Stipules pinnate
Stipules
503
Stipules interpetiolar
Stipules
504
Stipules (or pseudostipules) present in families generally without stipules

The specific families which generally lack stipules but which have a few species with (generally, false) stipules, are:

  1. Asteraceae
  2. Convolvulaceae
Stipules
505
Stipules present
Stipules
506
Stipules absent
Stipules
507
Stipules auriculate, amplexicaul or semi-amplexicaul
Stipules
508
Stipules fimbriate or laciniate
Stipules
509
Stipules bifid or with 2 lobes
Stipules
510
Stipules conspicuous A somewhat vague character of plants with stipules which are very noticeable in some way - perhaps usually because of their size.
Petiole / rhachis
600
Petiole channelled above
Petiole / rhachis
601
Petiole (markedly) swollen at apex
Petiole / rhachis
602
Petiole (markedly) swollen at base
Petiole / rhachis
603
Petiole wrinkled
Petiole / rhachis
604
Petiole and/or rhachis winged
Petiole / rhachis
605
Petiole and/or rhachis bearing glands
Leaves
700
Leaves reduced to scales or 0
Leaves
701
Leaves whorled
Leaves
702
Leaves both alternate and whorled or opposite on same plant
Leaves
703
Leaves alternate in families with generally opposite leaves
Leaves
704
Leaves opposite in families with generally alternate leaves The specific families which generally have alternate leaves but which have a few species with opposite leaves, are:
  1. Euphorbiaceae
Leaves
705
Leaves anisophyllous
Leaves
706
Leaves peltate
Leaves
707
Leaves both simple and compound on the same plant
Leaves
708
Leaves 3-foliolate
Leaves
709
Leaves imparipinnate with more than 3 leaflets
Leaves
710
Leaves paripinnate with 2 leaflets only
Leaves
711
Leaves paripinnate with more than 2 leaflets
Leaves
712
Leaves digitately compound with more than 3 leaflets
Leaves
713
Leaves palmately lobed This character includes palmatifid and palmatisect leaves (i.e leaves which may be deeply dissected) but not those that are truly compound.
Leaves
714
Leaves pedate
Leaves
715
Leaves pinnatifid Also included here are leaves that are pinnatisect and pinnatilobed; i.e. all cases where the leaf is divided in a pinnate manner but is not completely divided to the mid-vein and therefore not truly pinnate.
Leaves
716
Leaves flabellate
Leaves
717
Leaves 2(-3 or more) pinnate
Leaves
718
Leaves simple (or 1-foliolate) in predominantly compound families or genera The specific families which have species with mainly compound leaves but with a few with simple leaves, are:
  1. Anacardiaceae
  2. Caesalpiniaceae
  3. Capparaceae
  4. Fabaceae
  5. Mimosaceae
  6. Rosaceae
  7. Sapindaceae
Leaves
719
Leaves with translucent gland dots (visible when held up to light) These pellucid glands usually occur throughout the lamina and may be seen by looking through the leaf while holding it against a bright light source.
Leaves
720
Leaves with translucent streaks or lines (visible when held up to light)
Leaves
721
Leaves bearing spines or prickles
Leaves
722
Leaves with domatia
Leaves
723
Leaves with markedly rough surfaces
Leaves
724
Leaves (or leaflets) consistently emarginate (i.e. excluding plants with rarely emarginate leaves)
Leaves
725
Leaves sensitive
Leaves
726
Leaves ericoid Resembling plants of the family Ericaceae, namely with small, usually linear, sharply pointed leaves.
Leaves
727
Leaves with midrib raised above and beneath
Leaves
728
Leaves bullate
Leaves
729
Leaves plicate
Leaves
730
Leaves turning black on drying
Leaves
731
Young leaves flushing red/ reddish-brown
Leaves
732
Leaves producing strong red/yellow autumn coloration
Leaves
733
Leaves with cystoliths
Leaves
734
Leaves (or leaflets in compound leaves) 3(-5)-veined from the base
Leaves
735
Leaves with a submarginal vein
Leaves
736
Leaves with parallel lateral veins
Leaves
737
Leaves dimorphic
Leaves
738
Leaf base sagittate
Leaves
739
Leaves opposite
Leaves
740
Leaves alternate Spiral leaf arrangements are included here
Leaves
741
Leaves simple 1-foliolate leaves included here.
Leaves
742
Leaves basal Leaves all or predominantly basal; cauline leaves or bracts may be present to a minor degree
Leaves
743
Leaves clustered at branch ends or on short shoots
Leaves
744
Leaves amplexicaul
Leaves
745
Leaves 2 (-3 or more) pinnatifid Included here within pinnatifid are variants such as pinnatisect, pinnatipartite etc.
Leaves
746
Leaves with entire margin
Leaves
747
Leaf base cordate
Leaves
748
Leaves with auricles [Note - still not clear to me how this differs from amplexicaul leaves]
Leaves
749
Leaves with black dots The black dots are bacterial nodules in the following genera in the Rubiaceae: Pavetta, Psychotria and Sericanthe.
Leaves
750
Leaves (or leaflets in compound leaves) with toothed margin The margin may be serrate, crenate or dentate but not lobed.
Leaves
751
Leaves markedly discolorous Leaves coloured differently above and beneath; the difference strongly marked. (To some extent a matter of opinion as to whether a particular species qualifies).
Leaves
752
Leaves with veins markedly impressed above
Leaves
753
Leaf with (a few) special glands on the lamina This spot character covers cases where a usually small number of distinctive glands are borne on the lamina. An example is the pair of glands which occur near the leaf base in Macaranga mellifera (see image).

It is not intended to include cases where there are pellucid gland dots throughout the lamina (spot charcter 719) or cases where the lamina is covered with glands beneath (spot character 755).
Leaves
754
Leaves with a fissure on the underside of the lamina
Leaves
755
Leaves bearing numerous (non-translucent) glands Compare spot characters 719 and 753.

This character is intended to cover cases where there are numerous glands on a leaf (usually covering the lower surface) which are not translucent.

An example is Macaranga capensis (see image).
Leaves
756
Leaf base asymmetric
Inflorescence
800
Inflorescence leaf-opposed
Inflorescence
801
Inflorescence supra-axillary
Inflorescence
802
Inflorescence epiphyllous
Inflorescence
803
Inflorescence an umbel or pseudumbel
Inflorescence
804
Inflorescence a cone
Inflorescence
805
Inflorescence a catkin
Inflorescence
806
Inflorescence partly or wholly enclosed within an involucre
Flowers
900
Dicotyledons with parts in threes
Flowers
901
Calyx accrescent
Flowers
902
Calyx with an epicalyx
Flowers
903
Calyx (or phyllaries in Asteraceae) spiny
Flowers
904
Corolla / petals fimbriate/2-fid Either individual petals 2-lobed or notched or the corolla lobes themselves 2-lobed or notched
Flowers
905
Corolla / petals with appendages
Flowers
906
Corolla / petals with a spur
Flowers
907
Sepals with a spur
Flowers
908
Corolla resupinate
Flowers
909
Flowers appearing before the leaves
Flowers
910
Staminal tube present
Flowers
911
Ovary inferior or semi-inferior
Flowers
912
Flowers bicoloured
Flowers
913
Perianth absent
Flowers
914
Calyx winged
Flowers
915
Calyx circumscissile The upper part of the calyx splits off transversely from the base.
Flowers
916
Ovary superior
Flowers
917
Calyx with hooked hairs or bristles
Flowers
918
Corolla hairy
Flowers
919
Calyx spathaceous Calyx resembling a spathe, as in the Araceae, usually surrounding or enclosing the corolla.
Fruits
1000
Fruits winged
Fruits
1001
Fruit prickly or spiny
Fruits
1002
Fruit with hooks or hooked bristles Included are fruits with glochidia.
Fruits
1003
Ripe fruit blue
Fruits
1004
Ripe fruit red
Fruits
1005
Ripe fruit white
Fruits
1006
Ripe fruit yellow
Fruits
1007
Ripe fruit black
Fruits
1008
Fruit compound
Fruits
1009
Fruit like a string of beads
Fruits
1010
Fruit like acorns
Fruits
1011
Fruit markedly ribbed
Fruits
1012
Fruit with a 3-locular capsule
Fruits
1013
Fruit inflated
Fruits
1014
Fruit with horny or wing-like protuberances
Fruits
1015
Fruit pendulous
Fruits
1016
Fruit circumscissile, opening with a lid
Fruits
1017
Fruits beaked
Fruits
1018
Fruit lobed
Fruits
1019
Fruit a capsule
Fruits
1020
Fruit a berry
Fruits
1021
Fruit covered in warts May extend this to enclude other protuberances such as tubercles.
Seeds
1100
Seeds winged
Seeds
1101
Seeds with an aril or aril-like structure In the term aril-like structure, we include a pseudaril (as in Commiphora) and an arillode (as in various genera in the Sapindaceae).
Seeds
1102
Seeds with long hairs Includes seeds with a coma.
Seeds
1103
Seeds "red and black" By this, we mean that the seed is partly coloured black and partly red. The red colour may be because of an aril (e.g. Afzelia quanzensis) or simply (apparently) a bicoloured seed as in Abrus precatorius.
Seeds
1104
Seeds with floss (long cottony hairs) E.g. cotton!
Miscellaneous
1200
Forest grasses These are grasses occurring in deep shade in forests; either riverine or montane forests. Species which occur in more open habitats such as forest edges and clearings are not included here. These grasses are often relatively broad-leaved.
Miscellaneous
1201
Grasses with broad leaves Grasses where the shape of the leaf is at least as broad as lanceolate or narrowly ovate

Number of spot-characters: 184


Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2014-17

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2017). Flora of Malawi: Spot-characters.
http://www.malawiflora.com/speciesdata/spot-characters.php, retrieved 17 October 2017

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